3 million years, BME (Before Modern Era)
The earliest hominid species on the planet Meran, Borealpithecus Norian, evolved from tree dwellers, living in temperate rainforests on the north-western quarter of the planet’s largest continent, Noria. They were the first primate species on the planet to develop an erect spine and the ability to walk easily on two legs.
They were an omnivorous species, subsisting on just about anything, from tubers, fruit and leaves, to insects, lizards and small rodents. They would also eat bird’s eggs, and scavenge meat from the kills of local predators. These predators, the largest a creature analogous to cougars on Earth, were the chief threat of the Borealpithecus.
Food was plentiful. Much of the increase in Borealpithecus brain power over the millennia was due to the necessity of avoiding predators. Borealpithecus were highly social, and lived in troops of anywhere from thirty to a hundred individuals.
Female Borealpithecus went into obvious estrus. In turn males became highly aroused when exposed to pheromones produced by the female during estrus. Otherwise, males and females developed no desire for sexual contact with each other, because of several biological factors.
Physical contact was very common among Borealpithecus troop members, and genital rubbing a natural part of such contact.
During sexual stimulation, Borealpithecus produced a pair of enzymes, one from the cervix, the other from endocrine glands connected to the penis and released with pre-ejaculate and ejaculate. Combined, these enzymes greatly increased the likelihood of conception, nourishing and strengthening sperm, facilitating their travel to the egg, and even facilitating the implantation of the egg, as the enzymes remain in the uterus for several days following intercourse.
An unfortunate effect of this combination of enzymes was that it caused extreme pain when mixed, a difficult thing for females and males to overcome when not in the throes of mating. This may have prevented copulation, and therefore wasted energy, during a female’s non-fertile cycles, or it may simply have been a side effect not severe enough to prevent copulation and conception in any significant way.
Because of this, physical bonding between males and females of the early hominid species rarely strayed toward rubbing of genitalia. When it did, both parties, not induced to mate and experiencing sudden pain, would immediately stop. Genital rubbing became a bonding practice common to same sex members of the species, rather than opposite sex pairings.
In Borealpithecus’s ancestor, this did little to effect the genetic line. However, Borealpithecus’s more complex social structure led to physical bonding becoming more important. A young female’s willingness to groom, touch and even have sex with other females increased the likelihood that she would be allowed to mate. Females unwilling to engage in bonding were often driven out of the troop, to fend for themselves in the dangerous rainforest.
For males the sentence was harsher. Exposed to a female’s mating pheromone, males of a troop would launch into an all-out frenzy, fighting each other over the right to mate. A strong bond was the only thing that prevented older, stronger males from killing younger, smaller males. As well, older males, better able to resist the pheromone, were also willing to allow those younger males they were closest to, to mate alongside them.
The periodic bouts of violence were strange interludes in the otherwise peaceful, simple lives of this species of early Maren hominid.
As they always do, things would soon change.
Over several thousand years, the climate of Maren changed, the average temperature decreasing. Vast forests across the center of the planet vanished, including the temperate rainforests of the Borealpithecus Norian. Driven from the safety of the trees, and eventually away from the forest all together, Borealpithecus survived for a few more generations, and gradually evolved into something new.
1.5 million years BME
The continent of Noria was dry, with few trees. Several sapient species existed, but the most fascinating was Homonorian Habilis. While many other local species, even birds, used tools, Habilis used them in a far more sophisticated way.
They were the first species on Maren to knap stone to make blades and digging tools, which they used to scrap meat from bones, and dig deep into the earth to find water and food.
Habilis lived in family bands of around fifteen to thirty individuals, led by one or two individuals who had proven strong and resourceful. Homosexuality was ingrained in the species, and mating had changed little from the days of Borealpithecus. Grooming and physical closeness was still of paramount importance to strengthening bonds and ensuring the cohesion of the band.
The species ranged across the northern plains of Noria, and had even proven successful at fending off the more dangerous predators of the plains. Bands worked together to attack threats, and protect each other.
Their diet consisted of tubers, shrub fruits, insects, lizards, bird eggs, and whatever they could scavenge from the kills of larger predators. Despite the advantages of intelligence and numbers, bands struggled for survival in the harsh plains climate. Food was scarce, and predators easily picked off unattended Habilis children.
But survive they did, and over tens of thousands of generations, they evolved.
Maren’s climate continued to fluctuate, and terrains spread, shrank and changed. Species migrated to find food, and better environments. Habilis populated almost the entire continent, but the last of the species died out around 780,000 BME.
500,000 years BME
Noria’s terrain had become more varied by this time, with temperate forests across much of the north east, and center, scrub desert overtaking much of lower center and southwest, and grass plains across the northwest.
Something altogether new had emerged. A male, body streaked with sweat and dirt, and mostly hairless compared to his ancestors, walks along a river’s edge. He carries a stone ax, the edge stained in blood. He is alert, scanning the horizon for movement. His eyes widen as he spots a dark shape in the distance. He raises a hand to his mouth, and yells out.
From all around, others like him come running. Three males and two females, all carrying stone axes, the most sophisticated tools ever seen on Maren. They range around the first man and he points into the distance, and explains what he has seen.
Ignis is another first for the planet Maren. They speak a simple language of nouns and verbs, but it has allowed them to do amazing things. Unlike their ancestors, they are avid hunters, though much of their game is small: rodents, birds and reptiles.
This hunting party is after something bigger; an elk they have managed to wound. Hunts are more about luck than anything else. They will follow a wounded animal for hours, waiting for it to fall, and make for an easier kill.
The hunting party spreads out and walks toward the dot in the distance that the oldest male believes is the elk. An hour later, they finally close in on the animal. It is laying on the ground, writhing and bleating in pain. At the signal of the oldest male, the hunters move in, and slaughter the animal. Using their stone blades, they butcher the beast and carry the meat home to their waiting family.
Ignis, much like their ancestors, are nomadic, moving to wherever food is most plentiful. They are also not picky about what they eat. While their diet consists of more meat, they will try to eat just about anything that looks edible and tastes good.
The hunting party rejoins their troop, of about twenty-five individuals, shouting their success in the hunt. The family gathers to celebrate the abundance of meat, and the hunters happily share out the kill. Still highly social, but now even more interconnected then their ancestors. Homonorian Habilis would not have shared out a meal this way. The Ignis troop is connected not by safety in numbers or the leadership of a strong male or female. They remain together by bonds of family and friendship.
They are capable of another trick that their ancestors never dreamed of. As night falls, the family gathers wood and tinder. And they set a fire.
Ignis has discovered something no animal on Maren has come close to achieving. Fire provides them a source of warmth they can carry anywhere, allowing them to survive in ever decreasing temperatures, and ward off predators.
The Ignis family sits around the campfire and shares their meal. The hunters describe the hunt, and what they saw while tracking the elk. The rest of the family shares stories about their day. Social bonding has evolved long past grooming, cuddling and sexual stimulation. Ignis are bonded by shared memories, lessons handed down from adults to children, and even stories passed down for generations.
In the light of the fire, their imaginations will take flight, and color what they will become.
An ice age sweeps through the land, changing the terrain once again. Temperate forests vanish, and boreal forests spread. The grassy plains turn to desert. In the cold, dry climate, water is precious and survival cannot be left up to chance.
100,000 years BME
A small family band, decimated by lack of food and water, have traveled to the very edge of the continent. Along the rocky coastline, they discover dangerous water that pounds the earth to small, smooth rocks, and tastes like death. The entire species is on the brink of extinction, reduced to only a few thousand individuals.
But near extinction can strengthen a species as much as destroy it. Those that remain of Homonorian Sapien are not tougher than their predecessors, but they are smarter. They are capable of innovation, of planning ahead. They can see the world as it might be, rather than simply as it is.
The family had passed through this area some years before, and there was a small stream. It is gone now, long dried up. But, one young male remembers something his now dead father showed him. On their last trek along the beach, the boy and his father spent several days making pots using clay and animal skulls, filling them with water from the stream, and burying them in the soft dirt at the edge of the rock beach.
The young man searches for the dried hide strips he and his father used to mark the pots. At first, he can’t find them, and fears they were destroyed by an animal. But one of his companions sees a single, frayed strip of leather.
The family digs frantically, and is greeted with a wonderful sight. Two of the clay pots are broken, their content lost to the earth. But the other four are intact, and still full of water. Grateful, the family shares out the water, and moves on.
Further south, they will find another stream, and repeat the trick taught to them by a long dead member of their band. Around their fire, they will tell stories, no longer simply recounting the events of their day or days past. The young man, drawing pictures in the dirt, explains that two of the clay pots were broken because the earth spirits demanded their share of water, and protected the rest for the family.
They carve totems out of wood, images of the animals they hunt, or things they find special or important. One women carves a pair of large breasts, hoping hers will be full of milk for her soon to arrive baby. A man carves a figure of a person, a male, a symbol of mourning for his companion, who recently died. He imagines perhaps, that the dead man is still with him, in another world separate from his body. And perhaps, he thinks, the figure might allow his dead companion to see into the solid world again. Either way, it brings him comfort to hold it.
Gathered around their campfire, listening to the snap of burning branches and the babble of the nearby creek, the band is relaxed, well fed, watered and content.
One of the woman begins to convulse. She had sensed this coming all day, and waves off her female partner who attempts to embrace her. Of the three men of the family band, one, who holds the small carving of his dead partner, is old enough to resist the mating pheromone, for a time. He holds back the youngest, brother to the woman going into estrus. The remaining man surges forward, and the women circle around them.
The oldest man pulls the younger away, to wait by the stream, where neither will be tempted by the pheromones. He considers separating the now mating couple, and mating with the woman himself. But, her new partner is his cousin, and was the son of the man who buried the pots of water, and likely saved them. It would be good for him to have child.
The youngest man curls up to sleep. The oldest stares down at the small carving in his hand, and laying back on the grass, lets his mind wander to pleasant memories.
Against all logic, Homonorian Sapien is predominantly homosexual, most feeling heterosexual desire only when compelled by hormonal surges and pheromones. Otherwise, men are sexually attracted to men and women to women. Pair bonding is common, used to exchange members when family groups meet. A woman might take on a female partner from another family, who can then be mated with her brother, or father. A male bonded pair might join a family that has lost most of their men.
Evolution carries on, in more ways than one. Homonorian Sapien come from a long line of creatures that changed the world of Maren and they will continue to change it as never before. They will bend and twist the elements to their wills. They will create stories, culture and societies, and they will bring into those societies practices ingrained by years of evolution. A rather bizarre evolutionary quirk will become a matter of gods and creation, of morality and sin. Of base necessities and lofty ideologies.